Hey Tumblr Users, Why Is This Man Smiling? Because he sold your content and you worked for him for free.

Great news for Tumblr users–the eponymous Mr. Dave Karp just sold your content for $1.1 billion!  In cash!  And of course, he’s sharing that money with you, right?

No, he’s not.  But then again, record companies, movie studios, newspapers and music publishers don’t share the proceeds with their artists, journalists, songwriters or actors, when they’re sold either.  Of course…that’s not an apt comparison because all those companies paid for the “content” they’re selling.  As Francis Cianfrocca noted adroitly on Coffee and Markets, much of the value of companies like Tumblr is based on the appropriation of user content (and I think you could add YouTube to that list).

I really enjoyed the part of the Copyright Principles Project that dealt with artist rights issue of compensating users when the product of their free labor is sold for big bucks…no wait, that wasn’t covered.

So meet the new boss…worse than the old boss.  Way, way worse.  It’s all about “loser generated content.”

This is what Lessig calls the “hybrid economy.”  Sharing cultures, right?  Very collaborative.

Now bend over and “collaborate.”

4 thoughts on “Hey Tumblr Users, Why Is This Man Smiling? Because he sold your content and you worked for him for free.

  1. There’s something so fundamentally wrong with this (and other) “sales” of [other peoples’] content.
    Like i always say: if you steal a little bit, you’ll be beat-up and thrown behind bars… but if you steal on a massive scale, you’ll be treated like a king and will be immune to any legal action.


  2. This is an absurd and unhelpful screed. Tumblr provides a (free) service to people who want to self-publish, most of them recreationally. Tumblr users are not “working” for David Karp, and are free to self-publish using other (free or paid) services. Moreover, a good portion of the content shared by Tumblr users is not original, so the “losers” whose rights you’re championing are, in many cases, “users” of others’ content.

    There are many challenges facing bona fide creators in the age of the Internet, which will require novel solutions. Your simplistic, inflammatory articles contribute little in that regard.


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